Why I have chosen a video? Why I have allowed them to work in groups? Why am I allowing my students to have choice in their learning?  Why have I assigned homework? This is the question I start with for every instructional unit (and in practice, every classroom decision that I make). Why am I doing what I am doing? What is my desired learning outcome? How will it move my student’s learning forward?

My change to using a backward planning model has been one of the most significant improvements to my teaching practice. I now start all of my instructional planning with the following question:

What do I want my students to know, be able to do and value at the end of this instructional unit?

 Of course my answer always starts with the Ontario Curriculum and the overall expectations of that subject area. The next phase on my planning is where I try to visualize what does that learning look like in the life of a 10 year old (or 15 year old or 7 year old etc…). I try to find the context for the learning so that it becomes real for my students. That context increases the level of engagement, which in turn bolsters the intake of learning.

A caution I always have to remind myself of is that I am viewing the learning tasks and content through an adult focussed brain. To be more effective I have to train myself to screen my teaching through the developmental age of my students. When you know why you are teaching something, the actual teaching becomes so much easier.


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